Winter 2019-2020 has been pretty mild in DFW so far. But February is looking to settle that score. Brrr it's cold.
Does eating warm food warm you up? Actually, no: The foods that raise your body temperature are those that take longer to digest — things like complex carbohydrates. Like oats.
That said, eating or drinking something hot is said to make you think you are warmer. So let's just go with stereotypical hearty dishes and call it a day.
For February Where to Eat, here are five Dallas restaurants with dishes to warm things up:
Tom kha gai, aka Thai coconut soup, is a dish with which you can almost never go wrong. It's a complex dish that combines so many sensations all at once: spicy and sour, filling yet light, delicate yet bursting with flavor, with coconut milk serving as a medium to pull it all together. And most of Dallas' Thai restaurants are good at what they do. CrushCraft in Uptown is one of the most centrally located, and their version of this classic is especially delectable, thanks to its potent dose of seasonings and fresh ingredients, balanced by the richness of the coconut milk. If only they didn't use plastic utensils. C'mon, CrushCraft, get us some silver.
This small, loosely-connected chain dishes out Italian-American standards in unpretentious locations in Frisco, Garland, and Plano. The concept was founded in Amarillo a decade ago by Enver "Eddie" Kolenovic, aka Chef Eddie, aka Chef Eddie Kola, and the locations are owned by various friends and family. They have many minor variations on the name be it Eddies Napoli's, Eddie's Napoli's, or Eddie's Napolis. Eddie's owners, get your stories straight.
Like many "Italian" restaurants around DFW, the background here is actually Albanian, which has not always been a positive force on the local Italian restaurant scene. But in this case, the food is decent, with hearty pastas and respectable pizzas where the crust is made in house, not too thin, not too thick, with a nice browned edge; and fresh spinach is a topping option. One great and informal dish to order: garlic knots with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. Very warming.
Easygoing neighborhood spot in Lakewood Shopping Center is loved by the locals for its commendable barbecue, sandwiches, wings, pizza, and queso, including one noteworthy queso doctored up with brisket. That's not even getting into the long list of Texas beers on tap as well as craft cocktails.
Like many restaurants, they do chili — but not just any chili. This is a chili made with Prime brisket that's been smoked for 14 hours, then simmered with tomatoes and Shiner bock and 14 spices, layered in while it cooks. You can get it in a bowl, or get it piled onto a baked potato topped with melted cheese, scallions, and sour cream.
Pop Pot & Tea
Small spot inside the food court at the 99 Ranch Mart in Frisco is a hidden find. It's counter service, and maybe that's why it's a pleasant surprise to find that they do hot pots, both in individual size or bigger versions to share, where you get a bowl of steaming broth that's filled with ingredients that cook while you watch. The presentation is cool (but a bit dangerous): The pot is served atop a box that holds a charcoal fire. When your order is called, you need to ferry it verrry carefully to your table, where it will continue to cook.
You can choose from their pre-set options or customize your ingredients from a selection that includes seafood, beef, tofu, vegetables, noodles, and more. If that's not warming enough for you, they also have crunchy fried brown rice cakes and the rare Chinese fermented treat called stinky tofu, which comes with plenty of Chinese pickled cabbage. That'll warm you up for sure.
Gumbo, Louisiana's favorite stew, makes for a quintessential good cold-weather dish, and thanks to a strong Cajun presence in our local restaurant scene, there are no shortage of options. For a novel twist, consider a vegan version, now being offered by DFW's most famous vegan restaurant, available throughout the month of February.
Their "Old Fashioned File Gumbo" has okra, carrots, celery, vegan sausage, and a new item for the mini-chain: vegan "shrimp" by Plants Lead Our Way, an Austin-based company that sells amazing vegan versions of meats and cheese. The gumbo boasts a Creole roux with hints of sassafras and cayenne, and is served over a bed of rice. It's available at all three Spiral Diner locations: Dallas, Fort Worth, and Denton.